Implementing Multi Level Security in Windows 7 with VirtualBox and VMLite

I’ve been experimenting with a Multi Level Security implementation in Windows 7 using VirtualBox and VMLite to run Chrome and other browsers inside a virtual machine (guest system) and to use this browser as the default browser for the entire computer (host system) for additional security. This setup allows to click any HTTP link inside pretty much any running program and make that url to load itself into a browser running inside the virtual machine.

This gives us an extra layer of security besides the normal Chrome sandboxing. Also all other usual VM features like snapshotting, reverting to a snapshot, clipboard between host and guest operation system, seamless mode, networking etc are all available. In practice the software running inside VM can’t be easily tell apart from non virtualized programs.

VMLite Workstation is a software built upon VirtualBox which allows to run a Windows XP instance in Seamless mode over a host operating system (Windows 7 in this case). You need a Windows XP license which is available at least with Windows 7 Professional version. This guide shows how to install Windows XP Mode which comes with Windows 7 Professional into a virtual machine and to configure a Chrome browser inside the VM to act as the default browser for the host operating system.

Installation Instructions for VMLites and the Windows XP virtual image:

  1. Download Virtual XP Mode from and install it with the default settings.
  2. Download VMLite Workstation from
  3. Create new Virtual Image inside the VMLite workstation and give it  the installation location of the Virtual XP Mode.
  4. Now you should be able to boot the Virtual XP Mode within VMLite and install Chrome and other softwares which you feel you might need. Here’s a list for ideas which you should do:
    • Change Chrome theme to something else so you can tell apart the Chrome which runs inside the guest vm and the Chrome which runs in your host system.
    • Edit the VM settings to disable full read/write access to the shared folders and drivers and instead just give one predefined directory which you use to transfer files between the guest and the host operating systems.
  5. Remember to take a snapshot from the VM after you have setup your environment. This acts as a restore point in time so you can always reset your VM into this state if you do something stupid or think that the VM is compromised.

Making the Chrome inside VM to be the default browser for everything.

VMLite comes with a “Internet Explorer (secure)” shortcut with green borders which is installed onto your desktop. This shortcut starts Internet Explorer inside the VM. We’ll use this trick to pass Chrome.exe calls from the host system into the guest (VM) system with a .bat file and then making this .bat file the default browser program for the host system.

  1. First create a multilevel-security-browser.bat file by modifying these sources into some good location (I’ve placed it into F:\Users\Garo\VMLites\multilevel-security-browser.bat)
    @echo off
    pushd "C:\Program Files\VMLite\VMLite Workstation\"
    set path="C:\Program Files\VMLite\VMLite Workstation\";%path%
    vmlitectl run "VMLite XP Mode" "C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" "%*"

    Notice few things: The path line should have the VMLite installation directory inside the host system, the “VMLite XP Mode” should be the name of your VM and the chrome.exe path is the browser path inside the guest vm.

  2. Then create a multilevel-security-browser.reg file based on these sources:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    "URL Protocol"=""
    @="\"f:\\Users\\garo\\VMLites\\multilevel-security-browser.bat\" -- \"%1\""

    and set the path for chrome.bat to the path where you created your multilevel-security-browser.bat. Notice that we use the chrome.exe as the source of our DefaultIcon which assumes that you have Chrome also installed into your host operating system.

  3. Save the multilevel-security-browser.reg file and click to Merge its contents with the Windows 7 registry. UAC will ask for a confirmation which you need to allow.
  4. We’re pretty much done here. You can now try to click some http url and if everything went correctly a black shell window will appear for a moment and the VM is started (if it isn’t already running) and the url should be opened inside Chrome in the guest vm.

I’ve used this setup only for a day now and so far it has worked nicely. the VMLite can be turned into Seamless mode and the Windows XP taskbar can be moved on the top of the screen and set it to Auto-Hide the taskbar.

Good analysis paper over Stuxnet worm

The W32.Stuxnet worm has raised quite much discussion as its been analysed and technical details about its construction has been revealed. Stuxnet is special because it’s very complex and its targeted to attack very specific set of industrial process computers. These and other worm characteristics hints that the worm was created by a government  sponsored virus laboratory.

Some notable Stuxnet features include:

  • Four zero day exploits to windows operating system.
  • Stolen driver authentication certificates, including two from Realtek
  • Targeted to specific installation – it didn’t infect if it found to be in wrong computer.
  • Very installation specific payload which altered the process of the industrial control operations.

The following quote from [] sums up all this pretty well:

The attack combines an awful lot of skills — just think about the multiple 0day vulnerabilities, the stolen certificates etc. This was assembled by a highly qualified team of experts, involving some with specific control system expertise. This is not some hacker sitting in the basement of his parents house. To me, it seems that the resources needed to stage this attack point to a nation state.

Read the full analysis paper at

Also read the symantec blog at

Automated os x macintosh password retrieval via firewire

I’ve successfully created a Python script which can extract username and login password from a mac running OS X tiger (going to test with leopard asap) via firewire using a linux laptop, based on great paper Hit By A Bus: Physical Access Attacks with Firewire by Adam Boileau. Once the attackers Linux laptop is connected to target machine via firewire, the password can be automaticly extracted from memory via firewire in about 10 seconds.

Thisosx-memory-password hack exploits the fact that OS X keeps username and password in memory, even after a macbook is resumed from hibernation. Usin this technique a cracker can open the screen of a suspended macbook, wait until the unlock screen is displayed, plugin the linux laptop used for the attack to the firewire bus and run the password download script which extracs the password in under ten seconds.

The username and password is located in a memory page which can be identified by multiple static byte sequences. One of these sequences is a string dsAttrTypeStandard:UserShell which is located 1448 bytes from the start of the memory page. The attacker can simply iterate over every memory page and to look if this string exists 1448 bytes from the start of the memory page being iterated. Once this memory page has been identified and downloaded the script searches for string username inside this page. The actual username is a null ending string which starts at starting_offset_of_username_string + 12 bytes. The password can be found by searching string password and retrieving the actual password at starting_offset_of_password_string + 12 bytes.

This attack is very dangerous because it allows the attacker to gain access to a mac which is turned of into hibernation or suspend-to-disk mode. As Maximillian Dornseif presented in his keynote 0wned by an iPod the attacker can install Linux to a normal iPod and setup needed programs to implement a firewire memory attack. This means that the attacker needs just to carry an ipod with him, which is much less prone to attract security aware personels. Just wait for a goot moment, insert an iPod from your pocket into the target mac and login within a few seconds with the password you just extracted from the target machine memory.

EDIT: Some people have asked if similar attacks works in other operating systems. The answer is yes. I can also bypass a Windows XP SP2 login screen, just for an example. This was already proven by Adam Boileau last year (check out the link on the first chapter)